Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

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How much can you take?

Well Sunday was a bit mad wasn’t it? It was like going back to my youth turning the volume on the telly down and that on Test Match Special up.

Sunday was also the day of the big office move – well the railway bit of it. I’m the first to admit that I was having a right struggle with baseboards just when Morgan decided to get out and leave England at 85-4 so I decided to turn the radio off to concentrate on the railway. One stress at a time thank you!

However after months of planning, wallpaper stripping, plastering, painting, and more planning, the office area is now complete as is the main baseboard.

There is still the workbench to do and the fiddle yard to erect but the latter can definitely wait awhile. The former needs doing pronto so my old office can be turned into the spare room ready for t’missus’ family when they stay at the end of Sept.

in amongst all that, Warley is coming up in November and I’ve not forgotten my promise! Time to get on with the Square!

And thank goodness England won the cricket.


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Nothing to see here

The world seems to have gone mad. My world anyway. Which means not much time for anything for a long time.

But I did manage to get to try the new fence on the bandsaw the other day and start cutting out Earl of Merioneth shaped sides.

Here’s one being glued. The title of this post isn’t really a joke!

The good thing is that the side seems to have confirmed I got the stretching dimensions right. Phew! Might get a chance to do the other side soon.

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In business again

So my thumb is healed, the creator of the thumb incident has left the building and it’s time to get going again.

What I need to do to cut plastic without attempting to cut my digits was to fit a decent rip fence to my bandsaw. Doing so was a bit of a palaver as the picture below shows as I had to clamp the drill in place on the saw table bed to drill the holes. You’re going to tell me I could have taken the table off and you’re quite right. I could. But I didn’t.

The other problem of course is that the table is aluminium as is the bed so I had to source some aluminium nuts and bolts. Fortunately I found some from a car maintenance website and the nuts were nylocks which was an added bonus.

With it all bolted together and the scales added, we are in business.

To clear some space for the continued build of the Square I decided it really was time to put the Bulldog back together, particularly as the transfers and plates can be done with the loco complete. Proof, for anyone else contemplating it, that you can use a Bachmann 32xx/90xx Earl/Dukedog chassis and a K’s Bulldog kit to create a Bulldog that will pass muster.

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A day with MiniMes

Well a Happy Fathers Day to all dads and father figures.

Apart from my MiniMes giving me this card (thanks lads) I spent some of the morning with them painting a BR tail lamp I’ve got for my office (every office needs one you know).

It was a proper eBay bargain (unlike some of the comedy ones labelled as such, but no where near, or my favourite “RARE” when there’s 20 odd on sale).

The lamp’s bottom had rotted out so its lost the air holes at the bottom but apart from that is in good shape with secondary bottom in, reflector still inside and the red lens complete (no I won’t be shining it out of the window, what would the neighbours think?!)

Given it’s total lack of value I thought it’d be a nice project for me and the MiniMes so having spent some time cleaning it up over the last week or so we cracked open the white paint.

Once I’d persuaded no.1 not to use so much paint and no.2 that the red lens didn’t need paint on it, it went ok. It will need sanding back and a top layer putting on, along with a clean up of the glasses and lens but I just loved the amount the boys wanted to help.

Roll on the next joint project.


A day at Didcot

So I’m off work. I don’t parade it but I’ll say it openly too, the black dog has been a bit unmanageable of late. When depression strikes with me it is like having a vast dog sitting on me making it difficult for me to do anything. Sleep usually helps and sometimes after a good sleep the dog has buggered off but not this time. The bugger. It was brought on by a ridiculously tough work week hours wise and a properly awful meeting on Friday that I had to go to London for.

Probably not helping this time is, because my thumb has temporarily limited my dexterity, my other recourse of railway modelling has not been possible.

However, I have had this day in the diary for some time to “nip” down to Didcot and see the archives. A discussion with Richard Croucher some time ago and a revelation to him (the first person external to know – but you’re all about to now) that I would like to write Hawksworth’s biography (Engineering biography really but you can’t do that without knowing the chap) led to an invitation.

I have to say it is one heck of an impressive archive. All humidity controlled and properly stored. The downside is they have precious little directly catalogued as Hawksworth so I’m going to have to work out notable engineering events in his work and then use them as a “kiss” to research data in the board minutes and whatnot dated in the same reference timescale. Definitely going to be my life’s work.

Of course visiting Didcot did mean a look around including a squint at how the County is progressing (and I did get to see the Saint but no photos of that!!)

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Lucky boy

It’s been a week now so I can tell you about my slight injury. It could have been so much worse. Last Sunday morning I snatched some time and decided to progress the Square. First job was to cut off the moulded panel lines and apron edges from the white metal kit. That would give a nice surface to stick the Square sides to.

As mentioned in a previous post I’d stuck the drawings to the plastic so then I could cut out the shapes.

A disadvantage of my bandsaw is it doesn’t have an adjustable fence which is necessary for this job. So here’s the crunch. I had been given a Unimat SL which had been stripped of its lathe tailstock, chuck and tool post and had had the circular saw attachment fitted permanently. It had belonged to a watchmaker and he’d had a proper lathe and used it just for this which tells you what he thought of the Unimat as a lathe! The circular saw attachment did have an adjustable fence.

You can see what’s coming.

The Patriarch used to have a Unimat 3 and I remember him telling me once that it had loads of attachments to try and make it into something it wasn’t with the result that it wasn’t very good at any of them. The big problem with the circular saw attachment is that the clearance between the blade and the headstock is quite small. Coupled to which, the SL doesn’t have a belt guard.

So I started the first cut and straight away found that the plastic was fouling the headstock and the belt/pulley. In trying to keep that clear I, to use accident investigation terminology, “lost situational awareness”. The plastic slipped and my right thumb hit the blade. Fortunately it was more of a glance across the top of the blade. A trip to A&E revealed that it didn’t need stitches and it was dressed and I came home. It’s healing well but being right handed and it being my right opposing digit has made this week a bit trying.

Now I could make a guard for it. But to be honest when I first saw it, I thought it looked lethal. I even told my MiniMes they were never to touch it because it was so dangerous. I didn’t really intend for demonstrate the fact to them. 🙄

In risk assessment methodology there is the inverted triangle of what you should do.

Making a guard would be a combination of Engineering controls and Administrative controls as it would help isolate me from the hazard but only if I used it properly and didn’t take it off. The reality is, there are many hobby circular saws out there without a guard because with it in place you can’t see what you’re doing!

So I have plumped for an elimination / substitution solution. The Patriarch, in discussing the incident with him, suggested turning it back into a lathe. However I already have a Simat (Flexispeed / Cowells) on the way to me which is much superior- more on that when it arrives.

(Trade picture of a Simat from the 1970s – it you ever want to know anything about a particular lathe, go to – an excellent resource)

I have therefore bought an adjustable rip fence kit from Axminster Tools and will fit that to my bandsaw (cutting yourself with a baby Proxxon bandsaw takes a massive amount of skill / bad luck!).

And I have sold the Unimat. T’missus did ask whether I could bring myself consciously to sell something that I’d injured myself on. Good question! My solution was to dismantle it and sell it as a lathe with circular saw attachment. I made very clear in the instructions that it didn’t have tailstock, tool post, or guard for the saw. Hopefully the next owner won’t be as daft as me. I’m using the proceeds to buy the bits for the Simat I want.

In the meantime the modelling’s on hold – probably a good thing as I’m crazy busy at work. All the travel to London has enabled me to get a couple of good photos of the Intercity class 91. The livery still looks good today – one thing BR did do well was the corporate livery. Memorable and good looking.

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It’s been that sort of week. But today I managed to get some time here and there to push on with the standard gauge tonka tank. As mentioned previously, I decided to graft a 64xx cab onto the white metal body. It is a tad narrower than a 15xx cab but I can live with that for the added detail.

With the overly tall bufferbeam cut from the white metal bunker rear, it too was attached to the cab with the frame extension pieces.

Due to the donor nature of the chassis, with slightly modified dimensions, the sand boxes won’t fit as is so I’m going to re-profile them to fit into the space between the cab steps and the rear drivers. For the time being I’ve cut them off.

The chassis block was then cut down further to allow for the rear frame pieces.

With some fine tuning, the body now sits where it should. And I like the look.